In ancient times the area was one of the cradles of wine culture (see also Mesopotamia). A part of it belonged to the Canaan of the Israelites described in the Bible. The northern part belonged to Phoenicia, which also included coastal sections of present-day Syria. Numerous Phoenician city-states developed in the core area on the Mediterranean coast and also far beyond. The most important in the present borders of Lebanon were Berytos (Beirut), Byblos (Djebeil), Sidon (Sayda) and Tyros (Sur). The Phoenicians ruled here under temporarily strong influence of Egypt and Assyria from the 3rd millennium until the conquest by Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.) in 330 B.C. According to excavations in Byblos, there was already a winegrowing culture here 5,000 years ago. In Baalbek (grch. Heliopolis), today's wine-growing centre of Lebanon in the Bekaa valley, stands the temple built in the 2nd century AD for the wine god Bacchus. Over the centuries, there has been an eventful history with constantly changing Christian and Islamic dominions.